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The Grand Inquisitor

El Greco– Portrait of Fernando Nino de Guevara **, 1600

Your answers to the Inquisitor
In his wine-stained satin lace,
Are irrelevant as answers
Deduced from deepest space.

Your presence in his universe
Confirms him of your crime.
He seeks to seal all passages,
All escapes from space and time.

Behind the Science of his spectacles
Lives a mind reduced by power.
A gesture from his languid wrists —
All’s over in an hour.

“We seek to keep our faithful
Baptized, confirmed, and saved
From those dark, unknown questions
That live beyond the grave.   

“Hunched upon my velvet throne,
My pen controls the Door
That opens to the Vaults of Night 
Above the killing floor.”

** On 3 December 1599, Fernando Niño de Guevara was appointed Grand Inquisitor of Spain. During his tenure as Grand Inquisitor, the Spanish Inquisition burned 240 heretics, plus 96 in effigy. 1,628 other individuals were found guilty and subjected to lesser penalties.

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Via Neo The Grand Inquisitor is here addressing Jesus, who has come back to earth. Although the Inquisitor is a man of the Church, he is not in favor of what he believes Jesus offers to humankind, which is free will. Instead, the Inquisitor proposes to enslave people, and he tells Jesus how he will go about doing it.

Command that these stones be made bread–and mankind will run after Thee, obedient and grateful like a herd of cattle. But even then it will be ever diffident and trembling, lest Thou should take away Thy hand, and they lose thereby their bread! Thou didst refuse to accept the offer for fear of depriving men of their free choice; for where is there freedom of choice where men are bribed with bread?

Man shall not live by bread alone– was Thine answer. Thou knewest not, it seems, that it was precisely in the name of that earthly bread that the terrestrial spirit would one day rise against, struggle with, and finally conquer Thee…

Knowest Thou not that, but a few centuries hence, and the whole of mankind will have proclaimed in its wisdom and through its mouthpiece, Science, that there is no more crime, hence no more sin on earth, but only hungry people? “Feed us first and then command us to be virtuous!” will be the words written upon the banner lifted against Thee–a banner which shall destroy Thy Church to its very foundations, and in the place of Thy Temple shall raise once more the terrible Tower of Babel…

…It is then that we will finish building their tower for them. For they alone who feed them shall finish it, and we shall feed them in Thy name, and lying to them that it is in that name.

Oh, never, never, will they learn to feed themselves without our help! No science will ever give them bread so long as they remain free, so long as they refuse to lay that freedom at our feet, and say: “Enslave, but feed us!” That day must come when men will understand that freedom and daily bread enough to satisfy all are unthinkable and can never be had together, as men will never be able to fairly divide the two among themselves.

And they will also learn that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, miserable nonentities born wicked and rebellious.

Thou has promised to them the bread of life, the bread of heaven; but I ask Thee again, can that bread ever equal in the sight of the weak and the vicious, the ever ungrateful human race, their daily bread on earth?

And even supposing that thousands and tens of thousands follow Thee in the name of, and for the sake of, Thy heavenly bread, what will become of the millions and hundreds of millions of human beings too weak to scorn the earthly for the sake of Thy heavenly bread?

…In our sight and for our purpose the weak and the lowly are the more dear to us. True, they are vicious and rebellious, but we will force them into obedience, and it is they who will admire us the most. They will regard us as gods, and feel grateful to those who have consented to lead the masses and bear their burden of freedom by ruling over them–so terrible will that freedom at last appear to men!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • PA Cat September 29, 2018, 10:54 AM

    Take away the spectacles and replace the biretta with a beret, and you have Guevara updated for the twentieth century.

  • Terry September 29, 2018, 11:03 AM

    Every contemporary Democrat and many Repubs would relish this appointed monsters duties.

  • Howard Nelson September 29, 2018, 11:07 AM

    G, your portrayal of the cold, calculated cruelty of the political pornicians serves truth and, I hope, eventual justice…Justice of the Supreme Courts, earthly and heavenly.

  • Dr. Jay September 29, 2018, 1:56 PM

    “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” (Chico Marx as Fernando Niño de Guevar, Duck Soup).

  • Andy Texan September 29, 2018, 5:15 PM

    Gorgeous painting.

  • Charles E. Formaggio September 30, 2018, 5:02 PM

    Those stats listed aren’t that high, compared to deaths in wars etc. Israel kills more Gazans every year. Jews lock up plenty of Palestinians in their jails. Figures a Marx brother was spewing anti-Christian hate. Jews were a big reason the Inquisition even needed to exist.

  • Suburbanbanshee October 1, 2018, 6:40 AM

    The first thing to note is that it really was the “Spanish Inquisition,” a partnership between Spanish churchmen and the Spanish king and queen. The popes kept sending messages that it was a bad idea, but the Spanish state and church ignored them. (The kings of every Spanish kingdom had also spent the last several hundred years ignoring Rome on the topic of “don’t marry your cousins, uncles, or other close relations,” as well as on other topics.)

    The second thing to be noted is that the Spanish Inquisition, like the expulsion of Jews and Muslims, did address a real problem. Some Muslims, and even some Jews, were doing pretty crazy jihadi stuff, and a lot of border people in Spain didn’t believe in the rule of any law or the sanctity of any religion. There were Muslims who “converted” to Christianity and then went and slaughtered unarmed folks in the name of Allah, and there were some Jews who were playing all sides. When Protestantism came in, there were both Spanish and foreign Protestant terrorists doing equally crazy things; and there were plenty of insane Christian reactions in village or town mobs, that amounted to slaughtering the innocent. The kings of Spain clearly had to do something, because things were nutso.

    That doesn’t mean it was just, or even a good idea, to expel all non-Catholics, or to put all converts to Catholicism under the microscope. It’s true that the Spanish Inquisition had probably the kindest prisons and judiciaries in Europe at the time; and that it was probably safer to be a non-standard Protestant in Spain than in Elizabeth’s England. But it still wasn’t a great idea, and the blend of church and state made it worse.

    Among the greatest saints in Spanish history, and in all of European history, you find St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Both of them were under constant investigation by the Inquisition for their mystical writings and reform of their orders’ practices. St. Teresa was under particular suspicion because her parents were Jewish converts. But as annoyed as Teresa got at the Inquisition, it was St. John who really suffered injustice — at the hands of his own Carmelite friar brethren, who imprisoned him extrajudicially.

    So yeah, it was often better to be in the hands of the Inquisition than in the hands of your neighbors. But of course that doesn’t make it right.

    • CharlesEFormaggio January 20, 2022, 5:05 PM

      Rather than reading someone’s article about the Expulsion of Jews from Spain, read the text yourself. It’s not long. It makes quite a case. Again, 264 heretics killed by the Inquisition most certainly doesn’t merit the fake reputation Jews and Muslims and anti-Catholics have given it. 264 men? versus the MILIONS killed by Bolsheviks??

      • Mike Austin January 21, 2022, 12:34 AM

        In college majoring in History one book I had to read was about Spain. It said that in 1492 Spain expelled its Jews. The text went on and on about how horrible this was for Spain, how it would lead to her ruin and how Ferdinand and Isabella made a cruel mistake. The next page said that beginning in 1492 and lasting until 1681, that Spain had its “Siglo de Oro”, its “Golden Century”. During these almost 200 years Spain had its own Renaissance—Spanish Art, Music and Literature were the finest in Europe—completed the conquest of the New World, built the largest empire in History and had the most feared soldiers in the world, the “tercios”. Obviously those two statements contradict each other—a contradiction that was never explained.

  • Suburbanbanshee October 1, 2018, 6:43 AM

    Ooh! I just thought of a book idea! Jailbreak Saints! A collection of famous saints who had to break out of prisons, or were helped to do so. (Like St. John of the Cross, who pried a door off its hinges and then went out the window of the room next door.)

    Heh heh.

  • Vanderleun October 1, 2018, 8:45 AM

    Excellent comments, Banshee. Excellent.

  • Mike Austin January 21, 2022, 6:22 AM

    In 2004 I began teaching 8th grade US History in Oklahoma City. At that time my hair still had a lot of black in it. I wore a full beard and tortoise shell black framed glasses. I looked remarkably like that El Greco. The valedictorian at graduation was a very sharp young lady named Karen. Five years later she was at a college in New York. While visiting a museum that had an El Greco exhibit, she came upon “The Cardinal”. She emailed me: “Mr. Austin, you asshole! Even in New York I still can’t get away from you!”

    Smiles all around.

  • Nori January 21, 2022, 10:04 AM

    Jailbreak Saints would be a good name for a band. Especially if there were an ex-con in the lineup,like Johnny Cash.
    Dostoevsky wrote “The Brothers Karamazov” in 1880;the poem “The Grand Inquisitor” quoted above is central to the book. The classic Russian novelists,and even more contemporary ones like Solzhenitsyn are not favored in the universities of this Brave New Western World. (White men,you know). Academia,government,military are chock-full of what Nikolai Gogol wrote of in “Dead Souls”;unthinking bureaucrats there for the paycheck and their power over the lesser beings. Free will is anathema to them;science,or the corruption of science,is their “improvement” of God himself.
    There is no doubt that Sergei Lavrov and Vladimir Putin have read the great classics of Russian literature,and unlike the goon squad currently in power here,they appreciate their heritage,and learned the true lessons from it. One of the first things Putin did when he came to power was to reinstate the Russian Orthodox Church to its rightful place in Russian society.

    The Grand Inquisitor lives on,has multiplied,and is determined to burn we the heretics out of existence,and if it means incinerating the entire world,they will do it,to prove they are mightier and more intelligent than God.

  • gw January 21, 2022, 1:12 PM

    Yes, the Catholic Church has had its share of villains and atrocities. But, don’t forget that Protestants have also had their share of bad actors in the name of religion (e.g. Henry VIII).

    In any case, hope you’ll give equal time to the “Religion of Peace”. Their principal prophet, Muhammed, reportedly said, “I have been made victorious through terror”, upon his death around 632 AD. Since then, his enthusiastic followers have cut a wide swath of death, Dhimmitude, and outright slavery through much of the Old World and still do. They have have remained dedicated to genocide, torture, and mass conversions in the name of their god more than any Christian sect, today.

    • gw January 21, 2022, 1:18 PM

      P.S. “Muhammad” not Muhammed.

  • Rev.Bro. Generik Broderick January 21, 2022, 1:22 PM

    These guys had no power unless some Blacksmith made all the locks, shackles, prison bars, implements of infliction of pain, etc. Alex Steele is currently making such devices. Latest was thumbscrew.

  • JoeDaddy January 22, 2022, 2:54 AM

    Looks like Fa0Chi, as does the poetry…aka Fauci…POS.